This blog entry might have more relevance to my readership at Brooke Weston Academy than to my millions of my other readers. At least the Brooke Weston people will appreciate the full irony.
Linda and I are seconded to the Ministry of Education with a very open brief. Our main purpose is to do “capacity building” at whatever level seems appropriate. That might mean advising Government officials on the latest thinking in teacher training, or helping to draft job descriptions for school inspectors or helping to design an inspection proforma for inspectors to use when they are watching teachers in the classroom, (or, indeed, under the tree, which is what happens in the school that is outside my office window.)
So guess what I was doing this morning? ICT training with the young man who has the grand title of “Office Manager” in the County Education Office where I work. Yes, ICT training, me! This is how you open “Word”. This is called a cursor and wherever it is flashing is where you will type. This is how you save your document. Now type out, 20 times “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.”
There are some people at the Ministry with a good level of education and the sort of skills that you might expect. Often these are people whose parents managed to send them to Kenya or Uganda for their education while the civil war was on. However there are others whose education was either interrupted, or indeed, wrecked by the 21 years of bitter civil war that ended in the Peace Agreement of 2005. So there are not a few of my colleagues whose ICT skills are even more limited than mine!
This morning we had to go and see the Director of the Relief and Rehabilitation Commission for an introductory visit. We had asked a motorcycle rickshaw driver to pick us up at 8.15am. He didn’t show up, so plan B was to grab our crash helmets and hail two boda-bodas (motorcycle taxis). You can’t imagine how weird it looks two white people on the backs of motorcycles wearing huge white helmets. There are hundreds of motorcycles on the streets, but no-one wears a crash helmet! (We were soundly told, during our training that if we were caught on a motorcycle without a helmet, it would be the end of our placement and we would be on the next flight home. Over the years VSO have had to deal with a number of deaths of volunteers who have been involved to bike accidents whilst not wearing helmets, so it is now a cast-iron policy….no helmet, no placement.
As we were travelling into town this morning like a couple of creatures from outer space, we saw children on their way to school, most of them carrying plastic-moulded chairs of all colours and sizes. Some had them on their heads, others were carrying them like a rucksack, etc. Clearly if you want a chair to sit on in school, you had better bring one with you!
I was desperate to take photos, but we have been warned that people around here do not understand the concept of taking photographs just as a souvenir of a place or its people and taking out a camera can easily lead to a confrontation. After years of war, people are very suspicious, so our cameras are being kept out of sight at the moment, at least until we have a better understanding of what is socially acceptable.
Now, let’s see if my ICT skills will enable me to get this text onto the blog. Fingers crossed.